Football Concussions

Concussion Risk & Prevention

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head, or any other contact that causes the brain to collide with the skull. Brain damage can occur from both a single event or cumulative trauma–when “smaller” injuries add up to overall damage to the brain.

Though there may be outward signs like bruising or lacerations in certain cases, it is just as likely to have no visual signs of injury. The effects of a concussion can be emotional, physical, or cognitive. Knowing the symptoms becomes the most important way to recognize a concussion and to get appropriate help.

Rate in Student Athletes

There are approximately 300,000 sports-related concussions in the United States each year. Football accounts for 65% of all reported cases. However no contact sport, or gender, is free from risk. The concussion rate for girls is actually higher than boys in gender-comparable sports. Female athletes also tend to recover from concussion at a slower rate than male athletes.


The goal of concussion prevention is to introduce safer skill sets to student athletes and find quick, proper treatment when injury occurs. Encouraging safer technique does not mean reduced performance. In fact improved athletic form promotes more effective athletic performance, as well as prolonging the career of the student athlete. The Sports-Injury Prevention Program at Balance Health teaches individuals and teams effective movement to reduce concussion risk as well as other common sport-related injuries. For more information, you can get in touch with one of our physical therapists.

Signs to Watch

The signs of a concussion usually appear within minutes of an injury, though some symptoms may take a few hours to develop. An athlete who has lost consciousness from an impact should always be examined for a brain or spinal injury. The most common complaint is a headache. Athletes that have suffered a concussion can show any of the following signs:

  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Headache
  • Difficulty with Memory
  • Feeling “out of it”
  • Slurred Speech
  • Excessive Drowsiness
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Behavioural Changes (anger, depression, irritability, etc.)
  • Exaggerated Emotions
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Difficulty with Balance
  • Enlarged or different-sized pupils
  • Blurred or Double Vision

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